I recently made a poll asking about if people had any interest in me sharing my opinions on different subjects, and not merely analysis. This will be a first, don’t know where it will lead.
To keep within the theme, in some ways, you should read my Beyond Mathematical Odds, but back in the day, often my “opinion posts” went different ways.
And here we are, after over 18 months of chronicling, forecasting, and commenting on the events unfolding before our very eyes, witness historical change that in decades, will be in history books, but unlike other moments in history, it extensively more chaotic. The more you optimize a system, the more chaotic its breakdown is.
After some thought I referred to this event as the Nova Swan, because by definition the pandemic, and its subsequent events were not a Black Swan, and the only apt comparison at the moment I could find was a Near Earth Super Nova, you can read more in my Nova Swan post, it’s short and not too much complicated. To understand how I see the current breakdown, I advise you to read, and watch the video in here.
By mere coincidence, while writing this piece, this video appeared on my feed. A perfect example of cascading dynamics, this video appeared on my feed. A perfect example of cascading dynamics.
If you have been reading me for a while, you know my approach is interdisciplinary, therefore I mix different fields of knowledge to achieve better results. Modeling the current events as a collisional cascading event, as in the Kessler Cascade, but adding my own framework. With this, you have a better idea on how I look at things.
All the signs on how China would tackle Omicron were there in January, and that moment alone had repercussions that I followed, and forecasted for weeks. Every single time China lockdown specific regions, the entire world feels the ripple effects, and now they are dealing with their own cascades. This isn’t a new phenomenon, nor a “novel take”, and one of the reasons, besides bringing awareness to those who follow me on Twitter, or subscribers here, I decided to write about it in long form.
As a simplistic rule of thumb, always assume most experts are, on average, 3 months behind. The better ones are usually 4 weeks. Current modeling is based on a flawed framework, and mathematical/statistical model, not entering flawed, but for risk assessment and mitigation, it is inappropriate. I will talk about this in another piece, about education.
The jump in gas prices in early March affect ceramic producers to cut production, it affected other industries too. Increasing energy costs have severely impacted the production of aluminum, steel, plastic, 3 of the basics ingredients to manufacturer and move the global economy. In case you couldn’t make sense so far in my analytical posts, the current shock, and ripple effects in the system will make recovery very hard.
Gas prices affect fertilizer prices, energy prices, and everything else, and you are already aware of all of this. What you may not be aware is the effects of the Chinese lockdown not on the prices, or production of goods, and the commodities market, but logistics.
The current lockdown in China will send seismic shockwaves into a fracture system. I usually left for the reader to make sense out of it, but this is more opinion, less analysis. When China locked down its portuary regions, 6 to 9 weeks later, the entire planet felt the shock. It creates a specific shortage of something very important…
The Everything Shortage didn’t begin because of China, but it was fueled by it to the current extent, and the current shocks are the damage to the lockdowns last year. They will lock down other regions, and inflict massive strain in the supply chain.
Lockdown in Shanghai, its financial center, is a clue to that. Not merely a hybrid war tactic, as I have been saying, but also a covert way to deal with all its problems. The population is getting to its tipping point, there are local food shortages because of the lockdowns, continuous disruption on its energy sector, the lockdown serves multiple purposes. “Everybody bleeds, if I bleed”.
I have seen a few posts arguing that “There is no wheat shortage”, “There is no Fertilizer shortage”, among other misguided, almost misinformation takes.
One could argue that, indeed, some countries could pick up this specific grain shortage, or that, I won’t argue their bad math, I will argue the cold, hard reality. One of the main difficulties after the lockdowns in 2020, was the recovery, that created a perceptible at first, massive after weeks, shortage of containers. You know, that big box you ship things inside.
And what every, single lockdown in China did, was intensified said shortage to the point shipping costs went to record highs every other week. Above all else, we have a logistical (space) shortage, and after the lockdown is lifted, massive bottlenecks happen in some ports around the world, where the US LA/LB being hit the hardest last time. Let alone the bottlenecks in commodities, refining, and manufacturing. A massive game of push, and pull.
One of the hindrances in the European Union plan to buy all the LNG (gas) it needs to get of Russian gas, and to import from the US, there isn’t enough vessels to ship the gas. Transporting LNG is very different from any other type of fuel, you need specialized vessels, that are fairly complex, not built in sufficient numbers in the US (South Korea is the main LNG carrier builder accounting for over 65% of the capacity, followed by Japan, 12%, and China 7%, the rest divided between France, Spain, and the US).
So regardless of talking points, reality won’t change, builders are booked until 2023, and new vessels take up to 3 years to build, and conversion takes up to 2 years. Wouldn’t be a problem if *check notes
There wasn’t a shortage of the materials necessary to build, or convert, these ships, creating delays sometimes. One shortage, feeds the other, creating others, feeding new ones, like the Kessler Syndrome.
And since gas is directly used in fertilizer production, let us delve a bit on this matter. I have covered the fertilizer woes quite extensively, and they have been a long time coming. What many are missing in the fertilizing issues is not the current yields, but the future ones, 4-6 months down the line. Also, a matter of logistics. Some farmers are already locked in for the next crop, or even the entire year, but in any social media, you can find dozens of farmers that were either priced out, couldn’t find, or worse, not enough space for the inputs. You can’t stock something if you don’t have enough space.
By the current disruptions alone I already expect the yield of crops for the next 12 months to be at least -7%, but one concerning trend I keep reading from farmers in different countries is the same. “I hope the weather is good, so the fertilizer problem won’t impact as much”.
Well, the weather is at a minimum erratic lately, and judging by our weather (Brazil), and our neighbor (Argentina), relying on the whims of Mother Nature doesn’t seem a good strategy right now. Brazil had a bad corn crop because of drought, soy also got slightly impacted. Major exporters of grain are all impacted, and the point of this entire piece is the following.
These are creating a mess of epic proportions in MENA (Middle East Northern Africa), which will further destabilize the entire EU, and become a bargaining chip for Turkey. If the food crisis is not addressed as soon as possible, in the coming months we will experience the biggest human migration in history, and these will be a literal horde of starving “barbarians”. This is a matter of national, and global security.
It is one of the main points in most Bioterrorism/Biodefense books, that human migration can, and will be used by both State and Non-State actors, and terrorists as a vector for attack. And not only that, during the Syrian migration, certain areas in Europe got flooded with Europeans getting sick with diseases not common in Europe. Not the fault of the Syrians fleeing war, but each region has their own endemic diseases.
A lot of people ask me for a “action plan”, the problem with these are not simple. Not everyone has the same liquidity. I myself am trapped right now (LOL). So here are the bare-bones, the basics. These are very specific to your own situation.
If able, MOVE. Regardless of what happens in the short term, cities will become unlivable within 5 years. Rural areas are your main goal.
Stock non-perishables. Inflation won’t go down in the near future, by any metric. If I am completely wrong, you beat inflation, if I am right, you won’t starve, start small.
Stock fuel. There is a shortage of propane (used to dry grains in the US), there is a shortage of diesel, that will intensify because of the Chinese lockdown.
Learn how to make your own “healthy” oils. Lard, tallow, animal fat.
From a reader weeks ago.
Good suggestions. I picked up 4- Grape solar 100w panels from the big box store, 6 of the Sok 12v 100ah Lifepo4 batteries, 2-Epever 40a mppt charge controllers and Voltworks 2000w and 3000w pure sine wave inverters along with the recommended cables, fuses and connectors. Jackery 1000w with 2 of the same brand folding panels for more portability. The Acopower portable folding 100w solar panels are decent.
I have been prepping off the "100 things that disappear in an Economic Collapse" list since March 2020. Seperate Plans for staying at home and heading to the cabin. If you don't have rural land, Find a place to rent on short notice (off season collapse timeframe) in a rural area, maybe a week-2-week motel room in a state forest recreation area. Scope it out and make friends there now, volunteer at local charities to build trust. Good luck!
Portable solar: mobile-solarpower.com
Ebay: Calcium hypochlorite
I have a couple of small (portable) solar panels, that keep me going when I need to, at the very least, you should buy portable ones to keep your portable devices (mobile, tablet) going. External batteries with 10.000+ are very good too (20.000 would be better), they saved my life a couple of times. I expect to see some form of blackouts going on in the first world, and a lot in the Third World. These aren’t expensive right now…
Business owners should find different suppliers, and redesign their supply chain to rely on in local suppliers, at the current price, it is a wiser move, because the freight costs are big enough, and disruption are so frequent, relying on globalized supply chain is suffocating small and medium-sized business. Be creative.
I often receive inside information, so here is one. There is real chance countries might ration fuel as current events keep going as they are right now (Russia Ukraine, China Lock down) within 6 months. Mark this as a rumor, but take into account in your planning.
In summary, I don’t expect real recover to happen, but this opens up many opportunities, if you think outside the box. You could buy sought after electronics, and when the shortage hits computers, video games, you sell at a heft profit, you could source steel, and other commodities in large quantities from other (local) suppliers, build a little stockpile, and sell it when the price inevitably spike, etc.
This is long enough as it is. Comments are welcome, I wonder if subscribers would prefer opinion mixed with analysis in future posts, ones similar to Beyond Mathematical Odds, but again, I do prefer people to fully think for themselves.
And as a final message, never interpret any of my posts as doom, and gloom. My work is meant to be interpreted as my former boss did, like the following.
Historical moments like we are living, and will for years, where massive wealth and power transfers occurs, “chaotic times” are not doom. They are once in a century opportunities to achieve meaningful, everlasting change. And for once, in over 150 years, I firmly believe mankind has a realistic chance of finally being free.
Opportunities like these happen only every 3 generations, and they take an immensurable amount of sacrifice to come by. Don’t be sorry for the state of affairs, create goals, and strive to achieve them.
If you enjoy independent, interdisciplinary analysis, consider becoming a free or paying subscriber, support is very much appreciated. Sharing also helps me tremendously. I truly appreciate all supporters.
Things hidden in Complexity is a reader-supported publication.
Great post. I've been prepping but will now check out the solar panels and solar generators.
Another great post. Thank you for everything